After slow start, Cavan-Monaghan to hold recount tomorrow

 

ANALYSIS: With a high quota of 10,308 and a turnout of over 70 per cent, counting in the Cavan-Monaghan constituency got off to a slow start.

The first count was the last in the country to come through at Cavan's leisure complex.

It was announced well into the afternoon, re-electing Sinn Féin's Caoimghín Ó Caoláin, who topped the poll, and Fianna Fáil's Brendan Smith.

By the second and third counts, it was already clear that Monaghan Hospital candidate, SIPTU union official Paudge Connolly, was going to take a Fine Gael seat under pressure.

It also quickly became apparent that Fianna Fáil newcomer Robbie Gallagher was facing an election disaster.

The 14 candidates, all male, dropped out gradually, with Des Cullen of Labour and Tony Smith of the Christian Solidarity Party soon eliminated, followed by four others.

As what was to be the longest count continued, it also became clear that it would go well into the early morning.

By the ninth count Connolly was elected, much to the jubilance of his huge support group, along with Rory O'Hanlon of Fianna Fáil.

The battle then began for the fifth seat. The die-hards and elected TDs and supporters began to settle down to burn the midnight oil.

By 5 a.m., Paddy O'Reilly of Fine Gael was eliminated, but rumours of a recount had begun.

The battle was now between sitting Fine Gael TDs Seymore Crawford and Andrew Boylan.

When O'Reilly's vote of 5,710 was distributed, Boylan received 3,139, which gave him 9,144.

Crawford got 1,463, giving him 9,165.

But then came the real drama: the remaining 1,118 of O'Reilly's votes were non-transferable.

Would Boylan last the recount? Yes was the answer, which came at the unholy hour of 5.20 a.m.

The ebullient returning officer, Tommy Owens, announced the decision. There would be not just a total recount - he and his 80 counters needed time to make arrangements.

The recount will now be held tomorrow.

The remaining crowd then realised that they and their elected representatives would all have to return for what could be another long day.

They drifted away, exhausted, into the daylight of the cold Cavan morning.